Updated: Apr 25, 2021
The Disabled Photographers’ Society (DPS), which was founded in 1968 to help ex-servicemen in London who struggled to operate cameras, developed into a UK wide volunteer-run charity to help all disabled people pick up a camera.
The society is always looking for new ways to encourage members to take photographs, from quarterly competitions to finding equipment to help members use a camera despite their disabilities.
Chairman of the DPS, Tom Molloy, told The New View how the charity helps disabled photographers from providing physical support systems to attach to wheelchairs or body, to using bite switches to trigger the camera shutters by repurposing existing equipment to aid disabled photographers.
“Lighting rigs such as the Manfrotto magic arm and friction arm make great camera supports.”
Tom also tells us they also use chest pods - which are small tripods that hang around your neck to support a camera.
The charity repurposes their equipment due to the lack of disabled-friendly photographic equipment out there.
Tom tells us “the most requested item is a left-handed camera; one used to exist but is no longer manufactured.
“People who have lost the use of their right arm for one reason or another struggle to operate a shutter on most cameras as they are all designed to be used in the right hand.”
Tom says that in cases like this, bite switches can help out. However, if a photographer uses a pocket camera, a simple solution would be to turn the camera upside down and click with the left hand.
“Prints are easy to invert but digital images need to be inverted on a computer.”
The charity, which runs on voluntary donations of funds and equipment, also holds themed competitions each quarter. These competitions are often kept simple so disabled photographers can shoot from their own homes or gardens.
The society has had to cut back on group activities including days out and photoshoots due to the lockdown, but have found other ways to keep members occupied.
The DPS started a “lockdown” competition for its members - with themes to allow members to shoot at home. Every two weeks, members submitted their photos and then voted on their favourites.
The charity is always accepting donations of unwanted photographic equipment in good working condition and of any type - digital or analogue. Of course, they also welcome financial donations.
This year has proved difficult for funding, especially with their major fundraising event, The Photography Show, going virtual. Tom Molloy says they “usually sell surplus donated equipment to raise funds” at the event.
Tom tells us that their stand at The Photography Show “is very popular with photography students in particular, but draws lots of enthusiasts of all ages to our selection of very diverse equipment, which we collect all year round.”
With the event being cancelled with only a week notice in March 2020, their storage unit is “bursting at the seams” and are having to rely on the pandemic ending soon due to problems selling second-hand goods online.
Due to the fundraising issues. they had to stop production of their printed magazine, InFocus.
“The magazine is one of our major items of expenditure,” said Tom Molloy. The decision to halt the magazine production has helped the charity sustain manageable bank balance levels while still being able to provide members with a virtual service.
“I am hoping to get that back into print very soon, even if just for a Christmas edition for now.”
To find out more about the Disabled Photographers’ Society, visit their website at www.the-dps.co.uk.